Acts Chapter Eight

 

Read Acts 8:1-2

 

v1.  “AND SAUL WAS CONSENTING UNTO HIS DEATH.  AND AT THAT TIME THERE WAS A GREAT PERSECUTION AGAINST THE CHURCH WHICH WAS AT JERUSALEM; AND THEY WERE ALL SCATTERED ABROAD THROUGHOUT THE REGIONS OF JUDAEA AND SAMARIA, EXCEPT THE APOSTLES.”

 

            We’re introduced for the first time to Saul, or as we know him later the Apostle Paul.  He held or guarded the garments of those who stoned Stephen:

 

Acts 7:58  AND CAST him OUT OF THE CITY, AND STONED him: AND THE WITNESSES LAID DOWN THEIR CLOTHES AT A YOUNG MAN’S FEET, WHOSE NAME WAS SAUL.”

 

            When he is arrested after returning from his third missionary journey; Paul tells us of that occasion as an example of his prior commitment to the purposes of those who now wanted to kill him as well:

 

Acts 22:20  AND WHEN THE BLOOD OF THY MARTYR STEPHEN WAS SHED, I ALSO WAS STANDING BY, AND CONSENTING UNTO HIS DEATH, AND KEPT THE RAIMENT OF THEM THAT SLEW HIM.”

 

            As a result of this persecution the thousands of Christians that were in Jerusalem are now starting to be scattered out into other regions.  It’s time for God’s plan to unfold further and the gospel of Christ to be preached across the known world.

 

Acts 11:19  NOW THEY WHICH WERE SCATTERED ABROAD UPON THE PERSECUTION THAT AROSE ABOUT STEPHEN TRAVELLED AS FAR AS PHENICE, AND CYPRUS, AND ANTIOCH, PREACHING THE WORD TO NONE BUT UNTO THE JEWS ONLY.”

 

            If they had stayed at Jerusalem, congregated and centered there would there have been the complete evangelization of the world that was required and God’s plan of redemption brought to all men?  No.

 

v2.  “AND DEVOUT MEN CARRIED STEPHEN to his burial, AND MADE GREAT LAMENTATION OVER HIM.”

 

            We’re told that “DEVOUT MEN” carried Stephen, what does the word devout mean?  Vine - “pious, reverencing God, realizing the presence and power or claims of God”.  Men dedicated to God, men who admired and loved Stephen, men who made “great lamentation over him.”  What does that word mean?  In the original Greek this is the only use of this particular word in the New Testament that we find.  It literally means “to beat on the breast” and indicates the great love held for Stephen and the mourning that occurred because of his death.

 

Read Acts 8:3-4

 

v3.  “AS FOR SAUL, HE MADE HAVOCK OF THE CHURCH, ENTERING INTO EVERY HOUSE, AND HALING MEN AND WOMEN COMMITTED them TO PRISON.”

 

            The Sanhedrin now have lost their fear of the people haven’t they?  They also have lost their fear of creating a situation where they would be inviting the intervention of the Roman civil government.  Why?  Because they executed a man and there was no backlash that is recorded.  Why?  Again God is executing his plan, through his providence and the general nature of people.

            Did this great sin ever haunt Paul’s memory later?

 

I Corinthians 15:9  FOR I AM THE LEAST OF THE APOSTLES, THAT AM NOT MEET TO BE CALLED AN APOSTLE, BECAUSE I PERSECUTED THE CHURCH OF GOD.”

 

Yes, and we have a tendency, even though we know that our sins are totally forgiven, blotted out, erased from God’s book of our lives, to remember and sometimes let that bother us.  Paul wasn’t any different.  But he also tells us that he obtained the mercy of God and why.

 

I Timothy 1:13  WHO WAS BEFORE A BLASPHEMER, AND A PERSECUTOR, AND INJURIOUS: BUT I OBTAINED MERCY, BECAUSE I DID it IGNORANTLY IN UNBELIEF.”

 

            What does this tell us about sin committed in ignorance?  That, when repented of , God will readily forgive.  Conversely what does this also tell us about willful sin?  What does it tell us about willfully doing what it unrighteous or not right in the sight of God, knowing that its wrong?

 

Hebrews 10:26-2726For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”

 

v4.  “THEREFORE THEY THAT WERE SCATTERED ABROAD WENT EVERY WHERE PREACHING THE WORD.”

 

            The people from all those nations that were represented are now prepared and the situation has been generated, again just as God had planned, to scatter them back to their homelands and even other Jews that were from Jerusalem out into other areas.  And they went preaching and teaching the word, just as Jesus had commanded his disciples:

 

Matthew 10:23  BUT WHEN THEY PERSECUTE YOU IN THIS CITY, FLEE YE INTO ANOTHER: FOR VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, YE SHALL NOT HAVE GONE OVER THE CITIES OF ISRAEL TILL THE SON OF MAN BE COME.”

 

            When they persecute you in one city, go to another and continue to preach and teach.  So through the providence of God, something that would seem to those directly affected a great calamity is used to bring salvation to the world. That is exactly what Paul did when he was persecuted, didn’t he?  When he was persecuted in Damascus he went to Arabia.

 

Read Acts 8:5-8

 

v5.  “THEN PHILIP WENT DOWN TO THE CITY OF SAMARIA, AND PREACHED CHRIST UNTO THEM.”

 

            This is Philip the evangelist, one of those appointed to serve the Greciasn widows and one who now has left Jerusalem.  He went down to Samaria, that’s north, how do we get “down” out of that?  Elevation, Jerusalem was in the mountains.  I point that out to remind us of the preciseness of the wording of the Word of God.  When men start to speak against the truth one of the things we use to defend it is the precise language in so many places like this. 

It says he preached Christ unto them, were these people Jews?  God has not included the Gentiles people yet.  The Samaritans were a mixture of the ten northern tribes of Israel and their heathen neighbors.  When the Assyrians and Babylonians carried people off into captivity they didn’t take everyone.  They left behind the very poor, any who would not make good slaves, the infirm, and others that they did not consider useful or valuable.  These were still the descendants, at least partially, of Israel, they so included in the promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

 

v6.  “AND THE PEOPLE WITH ONE ACCORD GAVE HEED UNTO THOSE THINGS WHICH PHILIP SPAKE, HEARING AND SEEING THE MIRACLES WHICH HE DID.”

 

            Now these people had probably heard about what had happened in Jerusalem, hadn’t they.  They knew about the miracles, the healings, etc. that the apostles has done. So they gathered in great numbers and the scripture tells us “GAVE HEED” to Philips preaching.  The Greek words translated are somewhat stronger that our English words, so what does that mean?  They were, as one commentator states, “spellbound”.  They were fascinated, they gave their undivided attention, they listened carefully.  And Philip had been given the signs to confirm the source of his teaching.

 

v7.  “FOR UNCLEAN SPIRITS, CRYING WITH LOUD VOICE, CAME OUT OF MANY THAT WERE POSSESSED with them: AND MANY TAKEN WITH PALSIES, AND THAT WERE LAME, WERE HEALED.”

 

            What common characteristic do we have of these miracles?  They couldn’t be denied.  Unclean spirits were removed, sometimes literally kicking and screaming, from people and we talked about these spirits during our study of the Satan that we conducted.  There were others taken of palsies, what is that?  We most often relate it to actual physical, uncontrolled shaking, and those that were lame, perhaps even as the man at the gate of temple, not having been able to walk for their entire lives or for many years.

 

v8.  “AND THERE WAS GREAT JOY IN THAT CITY.”

 

            Why would there have been such joy in Samaria?  There are a number of reasons.  First of all they’re hearing the gospel of Christ preached, secondly they are being healed, thirdly they were, for the most part or at least partly, descendants of Israel that God had abandoned because of the rebellion of their ancestors and now God’s messengers are coming to them.  They knew the scripture didn’t they?  Jesus traveled through their country when traveling from Judaea to Galilee, didn’t he?  John 4 is the chapter where Jesus encounters the woman at the well at the city of Sychar and through her makes known to the Samaritans in that city the fact that the Messiah has come.

 

Read Acts 8:9-13

 

v9.  “BUT THERE WAS A CERTAIN MAN, CALLED SIMON, WHICH BEFORETIME IN THE SAME CITY USED SORCERY, AND BEWITCHED THE PEOPLE OF SAMARIA, GIVING OUT THAT HIMSELF WAS SOME GREAT ONE:”

 

            What kind of a man was this Simon?  He was a deceiver wasn’t he?  He was like those Gamaliel spoke of wasn’t he?

 

Acts 5:36  “FOR BEFORE THESE DAYS ROSE UP THEUDAS, BOASTING HIMSELF TO BE SOMEBODY; TO WHOM A NUMBER OF MEN, ABOUT FOUR HUNDRED, JOINED THEMSELVES: WHO WAS SLAIN; AND ALL, AS MANY AS OBEYED HIM, WERE SCATTERED, AND BROUGHT TO NOUGHT.”

 

            He deceived the people by tricks and other deceptions, much like a magician would.  The people of Samaria were deluded by his performances and he claimed to be somebody when in reality he was an imposter and the gullible were deceived.

 

v10.  “TO WHOM THEY ALL GAVE HEED, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST, SAYING, THIS MAN IS THE GREAT POWER OF GOD.”

 

            Simon had been successful hadn’t he?  In the practice of his magic, his sorcery he was held highly by from the “LEAST TO THE GREATEST”.  They having heard of the power of Jesus; gave God the credit for Simon’s power as well.  Consequently they thought that he was someone sent from God, spoke for God, when actually he was simply an opportunist, taking advantage of people just like our televangelists do today.

 

v11.  “AND TO HIM THEY HAD REGARD, BECAUSE THAT OF LONG TIME HE HAD BEWITCHED THEM WITH SOCERIES.”

 

            So Simon had worked his magic and lead these people to believe him for some time hadn’t he?

 

v12.  “BUT WHEN THEY BELEIVED PHILIP PREACHING THE THINGS CONCERING THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, THEY WERE BAPTIZED, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN.”

 

            Now the people of Samaria have the opportunity to see and hear the real thing.  When Philip goes among them preaching and teaching Jesus Christ and confirming his words with real miracles rather than the sorcery of Simon they believed.  And we also know what Philip was preaching because the scripture tells that when they believed they were baptized, just as those thousands of people were in Jerusalem.

 

v13.  “THEN SIMON HIMSELF BELIEVED ALSO: AND WHEN HE WAS BAPTIZED, HE CONTINUED WITH PHILIP, AND WONDERED, BEHOLDING THE MIRACLES AND SIGNS WHICH WERE DONE.”

 

            This man had been deceiving people for years perhaps, for some time at least, and now he meets up with the real thing.  We could even suppose that he may have followed Philip around just to try to see how he was doing all these things.  After all, what he knew was deception and trickery, now he was seeing something real and was fascinated by it.  Was there any difference between the belief of Simon and the other people who believed?  Not that the scripture tells us, in fact it uses the same words and implies the same kind of belief.  But even though Simon had believed and had been baptized, he still has a heart problem, doesn’t he?

 

Read Acts 8:14-25

 

v14  NOW WHEN THE APOSTLES WHICH WERE AT JERUSALEM HEARD THAT SAMARIA HAD RECEIVED THE WORD OF GOD, THEY SENT UNTO THEM PETER AND JOHN:”

 

            Even though many of the Jerusalem church had been scattered to the four winds, the apostles were still in Jerusalem as we noted earlier.  They heard about the work in Samaria, its success and the number of people being converted and decided to send Peter and John to see about it and see what they could do the help Philip.

 

v15.  “WHO, WHEN THEY WERE COME DOWN, PRAYED FOR THEM, THAT THEY MIGHT RECEIVE THE HOLY GHOST:”

 

            Peter and John prays for these Samaritan christians, bringing a petition to God that they should receive the Holy Ghost.  Why would they need this kind of support?  They had no New Testaments, the new covenant of God with mankind had not yet been written down, they needed guidance.

 

v16.  “(FOR AS YET HE WAS FALLEN UPON NONE OF THEM: ONLY THEY WERE BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS.”)

 

            The great commission had been exercised:

 

Matthew 28:19  GO YE THEREFORE, AND TEACH ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST:”

 

but these people did not receive the power of the Holy Ghost as a gift did they?  Does this help us understand what the scripture means:

 

Acts 2:38  THEN PETER SAID UNTO THEM, REPENT, AND BE BAPTIZED EVERY ONE OF YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS, AND YE SHALL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST.”

 

Controversy has always existed on the exact meaning of “YE SHALL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST.” in this verse.  However, we can point out that when the Samaritan people were baptized they did not receive any special power or blessing beyond their salvation, and neither do we.  These apostles are about to teach us the only way that the power of the Holy Spirit was provided.  Only Jesus, the apostles and the household of Cornelius received the Holy Spirit directly from God.  Jesus as the Son of God, the apostles to permit them to do the work they needed to do, Cornelius and his household to confirm or verify that Gentiles were fit subjects for God’s kingdom.  Everyone else was provided that power only by the laying on of the hands of an apostle.

 

 v17.  “THEN LAID THEY their HANDS ON THEM, AND THEY RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST.”

 

            This laying on of hands did not occur on Pentecost neither did it occur in the case of Cornelius in Acts 10.  When Paul taught the Ephesians how where they granted the power of the Holy Spirit?

 

Acts 19:6  AND WHEN PAUL HAD LAID his HANDS UPON THEM, THE HOLY GHOST CAME ON THEM; AND THEY SPAKE WITH TONGUES, AND PROPHESIED.”

 

This then is the true knowledge about how the power of the Holy Spirit was received and who received it.  Was it a complicated piece of knowledge that only the well versed or highly educated of that day could understand?  Should it be today?

 

Hebrews 6:1-2  ‘THEREFORE LEAVING THE PRINCIPLES OF THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, LET US GO ON UNTO PERFECTION; NOT LAYING AGAIN THE FOUNDATION OF REPENTANCE FROM DEAD WORKS, AND OF FAITH TOWARD GOD, OF THE DOCTRINE OF BAPTISMS, AND OF LAYING ON OF HANDS, AND OF RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD, AND OF ETERNAL JUDGMENT.” 

 

What do we commonly call those items the Hebrew writer is talking about here?  First principles, the basic teaching that we are to grow or mature beyond in His service.

 

v18.  “AND WHEN SIMON SAW THAT THROUGH LAYING ON OF THE APOSTLES’ HANDS THE HOLY GHOST WAS GIVEN, HE OFFERED THEM MONEY,”

 

            You remember that Simon was amazed by the power displayed by Philip.  He had claimed something similar and fooled a lot of people.  He was converted to Christ and baptized but he still had some of his old ways didn’t he?  He hadn’t outgrown greed or the lust for power.  He now knew how this power was transmitted from person to person, he wanted some and offered Peter and John money to give it to him.

 

v19.  “SAYING, GIVE ME ALSO THIS POWER, THAT ON WHOMSOEVER I LAY HANDS, HE MAY RECEIVE THE HOLY GHOST.”

 

            He not only wanted the power that Philip had, he wanted the full measure of an apostle so that he could pass this power on to other people.  Now that would be a lucrative business wouldn’t it?  Peter’s reaction is not what Simon expects is it? 

 

v20.  “BUT PETER SAID UNTO HIM, THY MONEY PERISH WITH THEE, BECAUSE THOU HAST THOUGHT THAT THE GIFT OF GOD MAY BE PURCHASED WITH MONEY.”

 

            The commentator says that Peter was filled with “holy and righteous indignation”.  He rebuked Simon, rebuked him strongly, because he thought that “THE GIFT OF GOD MAY BE PURCHASED WITH MONEY.”  What did Jesus tell his disciples when he sent them out on the limited commission?

 

Matthew 10:8  HEAL THE SICK, CLEANSE THE LEPERS, RAISE THE DEAD, CAST OUT DEVILS: FREELY YE HAVE RECEIVED, FREELY GIVE.”

 

It was not to be sold, it could not be sold, even if Peter were of a mind to do so, it could not be purchased with money.  Neither can our salvation today.

 

v21.  “THOU HAST NEITHER PART NOR LOT IN THIS MATTER: FOR THY HEART IS NOT RIGHT IN THE SIGHT OF GOD.”

 

            Then he tells him that since his heart isn’t right in God’s sight, that he can have no part in this matter at all.

 

v22.  “REPENT THEREFORE OF THIS THY WICKEDNESS, AND PRAY GOD, IF PERHAPS THE THOUGHT OF THINE HEART MAY BE FORGIVEN THEE.”

 

            Peter tells him to repent and pray God for forgiveness.  What is the formula for baptized believers who sin today?  Absolutely the same thing, repent and pray, simple isn’t it?  Repentance is not a new instruction is it? nor uncommon.  Nebuchadnezzar was told:

 

Daniel 4:27  “WHEREFORE, O KING, LET MY COUNSEL BE ACCEPTABLE UNTO THEE, AND BREAK OFF THY SINS BY RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND THINE INIQUITIES BY SHOWING MERCY TO THE POOR; IF IT MAY BE A LENGTHING OF THY TRANQUILLITY.”

 

            And elders of the church are instructed to give this advice as well:

 

II Timothy 2:25-26  “IN MEEKNESS INSTRUCTING THOSE THAT OPPOSE THEMSELVES; IF GOD PERADVENTURE WILL GIVE THEM REPENTANCE TO THE ACKNOWLEDING OF THE TRUTH; AND that THEY MAY RECOVER THEMSELVES OUT OF THE SNARE OF THE DEVIL, WHO ARE TAKEN CAPTIVE BY HIM AT HIS WILL.”

 

v23.  “FOR I PERCEIVE THAT THOU ART IN THE GALL OF BITTERNESS, AND in THE BOND OF INIQUITY.”

 

            Peter uses some pretty strong words to tell Simon of his spiritual condition doesn’t he?  The word translated “GALL” here does in fact mean gall, bile, possibly the bitterest substance known to mankind.  The same word in the original language is used by the Hebrew writer as well and translated bitterness:

 

Hebrews 12:14-15  “FOLLOW PEACE WITH ALL men, AND HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO MAN SHALL SEE THE LORD: LOOKING DILIGENTLY LEST ANY MAN FAIL OF THE GRACE OF GOD; LEST ANY ROOT OF BITTERNESS SPRINGING UP TROUBLE you, AND THEREBY MANY BE DEFILED.”

 

v24.  “THEN ANSWERED SIMON, AND SAID, PRAY YE TO THE LORD FOR ME, THAT NONE OF THESE THINGS WHICH YE HAVE SPOKEN COME UPON ME.”

 

            It didn’t take Simon long to figure out he had a problem did it?  He also didn’t have any problem asking for help either did he?  He wants Peter to pray for him, is praying for someone something new?  A couple of examples:

 

Exodus 8:8  THEN PHAROAH CALLED FOR MOSES AND AARON, AND SAID, ENTREAT THE LORD, THAT HE MAY TAKE AWAY THE FROGS FROM ME, AND FROM MY PEOPLE; AND I WILL LET THE PEOPLE GO, THAT THEY MAY DO SACRIFICE TO THE LORD.”

 

I Kings 13:6  AND THE KING ANSWERED AND SAID UNTO THE MAN OF GOD, ENTREAT NOW THE FACE OF THE LORD THY GOD, AND PRAY FOR ME, THAT MY HAND MAY BE RESTORED ME AGAIN.  AND THE MAN OF GOD BESOUGHT THE LORD, AND THE KING’S HAND WAS RESTORED HIM AGAIN AND BECAME AS it was BEFORE.”

 

            Could that be the reason we’re told today?

 

James 5:16  CONFESS your FAULTS ONE TO ANOTHER, AND PRAY ONE FOR ANOTHER, THAT YE MAY BE HEALED.  THE EFFECTUAL FERVENT PRAYER OFA RIGHTEOUS MAN AVAILETH MUCH.”

 

v25.  “AND THEY, WHEN THEY HAD TESTIFIED AND PREACHED THE WORD OF THE LORD, RETURNED TO JERUSALEM, AND PREACHED THE GOSPEL IN MANY VILLAGES OF THE SAMARITANS.”

 

            The apostles had sent Peter and John down to Samaria to encourage the brethren there and strengthen them.  They also passed on the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that they could continue to be properly instructed.  Now as they travel back to Jerusalem they take advantage of the opportunity and spend time teaching and preaching in as many villages as they pass through on the way home.

 

Read Acts 8:26-40

 

v26.  “AND THE ANGEL OF THE LORD SPAKE UNTO PHILIP, SAYING, ARISE, AND GO TOWARD THE SOUTH UNTO THE WAY THAT GOETH DOWN FROM JERUSALEM UNTO GAZA, WHICH IS DESERT.”

 

            We now turn from the short account of the gospel being introduced to the Samaritans to the introduction of the gospel into another part of the world, Ethiopia.  Again note the preciseness of the scripture, Philip is to go down to Gaza and in this case he going both down from a higher elevation and down the map, that is south, to a desert area.  Most of us who have ever read the newspaper or watched the news on television during the past few years know where Gaza is and its location in relationship to Jerusalem.  That’s the same region today and its principle city; a city that has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times that is about sixty miles south of Jerusalem.  With a horse and chariot that’s about two days journey, on foot about six days from Jerusalem and Philip is in Samaria, which is several days journey north of Jerusalem so Philip has a major trip to make.

 

v27.  “AND HE AROSE AND WENT: AND BEHOLD, A MAN OF ETHIOPIA, AN EUNUCH OF GREAT AUTHORITY UNDER CANDACE QUEEN OF THE ETHIOPIANS, WHO HAD CHARGE OF ALL HER TREASURES, AND HAD COME TO JERUSALEM FOR TO WORSHIP.”

 

            And he arose and went.  It didn’t take long for Philip to respond to God’s direction, did it?  What the scripture records for us would indicate that there was no discussion, no hesitation, no, “I must finish things up here first”, or anything of that nature - he just went.

            The scripture says that was a man of Ethiopia, but was he an Ethiopian by ancestry?  No he was a Jew or a proselyte Jew but most likely a Jew, but perhaps one born in the country of Ethiopia or moved to that country for some reason.  Should we be surprised to find a Jew in that country?  No, God’s prophet has already told us that those dispersed will continue to serve Him and bring offerings to Him even from beyond the borders of Ethiopia.

 

Zephaniah 3:10  FROM BEYOND THE RIVERS OF ETHIOPIA MY SUPPLIANTS, even THE DAUGHTER OF MY DISPERSED, SHALL BRING MINE OFFERING.”

 

This man was a man of great influence, he was the treasurer of the Queen of that country, a position perhaps much the same as Joseph enjoyed in the kingdom of Pharoah in Egypt and God is ready to use him to take the good news of the gospel to what is actually eastern Africa.

 

v28.  “WAS RETURNING, AND SITTING IN HIS CHARIOT READ ESAIAS THE PROPHET.”

 

            He had been to Jerusalem to worship at the temple.  This could have been as much as a year after the death Jesus or even perhaps two but not more than that and he may have come to observe the next passover.  By that time the church had been dispersed and perhaps he had not heard the gospel in Jerusalem.  But he’s riding in the chariot and reading the prophet Isaiah and the Greek verbiage indicates that he was reading aloud as was frequently the custom in that area at that time.

 

v29.  “THEN THE SPIRIT SAID UNTO PHILIP, GO NEAR, AND JOIN THYSELF TO THIS CHARIOT.”

 

            This is the person to whom Philip has been sent.  The Holy Spirit indicates that Philip is to join him in the chariot.  Now why didn’t the Spirit just touch the heart of this man like some folks claim happens today and give him the understanding of God’s word that he was seeking?   The same reason that God doesn’t do that today, because God doesn’t do that.  The Spirit spoke to his chosen messenger instead and sent him to do the work needed.

 

v30.  “AND PHILIP RAN THITHER TO him, AND HEARD HIM READ THE PROPHET ESAIAS, AND SAID, UNDERSTANDEST THOU WHAT THOU READEST?”

 

            So Philip runs to the chariot and asks the eunuch, to you understand what you are reading?

 

v31.  “AND HE SAID, HOW CAN I, EXCEPT SOME MAN SHOULD GUIDE ME?  AND HE DESIRED PHILIP THAT HE WOULD COME UP AND SIT WITH HIM.”

 

            The man of importance in the Ethiopian kingdom was also a man of humility wasn’t he?  Most great men are.  He understood fully the need for a teacher, he understood that he probably could not take the scripture that he was reading and understand what it was trying to tell him because it was prophecy, Isaiah writing of things that were to come.  Consequently he invited Philip to join him in his chariot.

 

v32.  “THE PLACE OF THE SCRIPTURE WHICH HE READ WAS THIS, HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO THE SLAUGHTER; AND LIKE A LAMB DUMB BEFORE HIS SHEARER, SO OPENED HE NOT HIS MOUTH:”

 

            The eunuch was reading from:

 

Isaiah 53:7-8  HE WAS OPPRESSED, AND HE WAS AFFLICTED, YET HE OPENED NOT HIS MOUTH: HE IS BROUGHT AS A LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER, AND AS A SHEEP BEFORE HER SHEARERS IS DUMB, SO HE OPENETH NOT HIS MOUTH.”

 

            Commentators tell us that this quotation was taken from the Septuagint Version translated into Greek and varies somewhat from the Hebrew text.  So the eunuch is reading Isaiah from the Greek translation done at Alexandria, Egypt.  It is talking about the Son of God, Jesus the Messiah and his sacrifice for the sins of mankind.  It is a beautiful place to start in teaching someone the gospel.

 

v33.  “IN HIS HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY: AND WHO SHALL DECLARE HIS GENERATION?   FOR HIS LIFE IS TAKEN FROM THE EARTH.”

 

            Isaiah says that proper or fair judgment was to be taken away from Jesus.  Jesus wasn’t crucified because of fair and reasonable judgment; Jesus was crucified because of hate and envy.  Why?  Because it was God’s plan to provide the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  Jesus went through this judgment, the torment he was subjected to, the beatings, the mockings, and even his crucifixion without complaint, without murmuring, without protest.  The question is asked who shall declare his generation?  Who indeed will declare the death, burial and resurrection of Christ?  His apostles, his disciples and the Christians who are his followers will; and the Holy Ghost that was sent to bear witness of him.

 

v34.  “AND THE EUNUCH ANSWERED PHILIP, AND SAID, I PRAY THEE, OF WHOM SPEAKETH THE PROPHET THIS?  OF HIMSELF, OR OF SOME OTHER MAN?”

 

            The eunuch did not understand who the prophet was writing about so he asks Philip.  The stage is set for the preacher to teach him.

 

v35.  “THEN PHILIP OPENED HIS MOUTH, AND BEGAN AT THE SAME SCRIPTURE, AND PREACHED UNTO HIM JESUS.”

 

            Apollo was another who when provided the opportunity did the same thing and his success is recorded for us:

 

Acts 18:28  FOR HE MIGHTILY CONVINCED THE JEWS, and that PUBLICLY, SHOWING BY THE SCRIPTURES THAT JESUS WAS CHRIST.”

 

            Of course, Apollo, Philip and we have the Master Teacher as our example:

 

Luke 24:27  AND BEGINNING AT MOSES AND ALL THE PROPHETS HE EXPOUNDED UNTO THEM IN ALL THE SCRIPTURES THE THINGS CONCERNING HIMSELF.”

 

v36.  “AND AS THEY WENT ON their WAY, THEY CAME UNTO A CERTAIN WATER: AND THE EUNUCH SAID, SEE, here is WATER; WHAT DOTH HINDER ME TO BE BAPTIZED?”

 

            The eunuch continued on his way with Philip teaching him as they went.  I think that we can safely assume that they’ve traveled for some time.  It would take time to teach someone about Jesus who had never heard about him before.  The scripture says that they came to a “CERTAIN WATER”.  Now this is a desert highway that would not have water just anywhere near it in many places.  But being the road between Jerusalem and Egypt there are places where there would be an oasis, wells, or water in some form.  This was called a certain water, so it was a location that was known to have water and probably had a name because of that but we’re not told what it was.

            The eunuch asks the famous question, here is water, why can’t I be baptized?  Now we’re told that Philip preached unto him Jesus, how did he know about baptism?  Because, contrary to the teaching of many denominations and some of our denominationally minded brethren;  preaching faith, repentance and the necessity of baptism  is part of preaching Jesus.

 

v37.  “AND PHILIP SAID, IF THOU BELIEVEST WITH ALL THINE HEART, THOU MAYEST.  AND HE ANSWERED AND SAID, I BELIEVE THAT JESUS CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD.”

 

            This is a verse of controversy.  The KJV includes it; the ASV and RSV exclude it.  I don’t know the history of this difference but apparently some of the manuscripts include it and some don’t.  As such; it is a classic example of the confession that we make before being baptized into Jesus Christ today and stands as the source or example of how it should be done.  It is not a commandment to confess Christ it is an example of a believer confessing Christ prior to baptism.  Christ gave us the commandment, made known the necessity  in Matthew 10:32

 

v38.  “AND HE COMMANDED THE CHARIOT TO STAND TILL: AND THEY WENT DOWN BOTH INTO THE WATER, BOTH PHILIP AND THE EUNUCH; AND HE BAPTIZED HIM.”

 

            The eunuch didn’t hesitate did he?  He didn’t wait until he understood the word of God better.  He didn’t wiffle waffle around about becoming a child of God.  He simply commanded his driver to stop.  He and Philip went down into the water and Philip immersed him.  Simple isn’t it?  But do people accept this example in its simplicity today?  No they ignore it, they mock it, they deny that it is given by God as a pattern for our behavior and generally, outside the church at least, try to do everything else but the simple act of this converted traveler.

 

v39.  “AND WHEN THEY WERE COME UP OUT OF THE WATER, THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD CAUGHT AWAY PHILIP, THAT THE EUNUCH SAW HIM NO MORE: AND HE WENT ON HIS WAY REJOICING.”

 

            Philip’s job was done.  He has been sent to lead this man to Christ, he converted him, he was baptized and God no longer had a need for Philip to be there.  Philip had to walk to get to the eunuch or at least if he didn’t we’re not told that.  But when the time comes for him to leave the Spirit, spirits him away if you’ll forgive the play on words.  The eunuch isn’t concerned about that is he?  No, he just goes on his way rejoicing because he how has his sins forgiven for the first time in his life.  He knows that he is saved, just as we can all know that we are saved of we have obeyed God’s commandments.

 

v40.  “BUT PHILIP WAS FOUND AT AZOTUS: AND PASSING THROUGH THE PREACHED IN ALL THE CITIES, TILL HE CAME TO CAESAREA.”

            What is the city of Azotus?  It is the city of Ashdod in the land that belonged to the Philistines and is located on the Mediterranean coast.  Philip travels from there up the coast for at least sixty miles and if he traveled inland from Azotus were the principle cities were, he traveled many more miles than that to reach the city of Caesarea.  Did Philip stay at Caesarea?  We don’t know but the next time we encounter him is when and where?

 

Acts 21:8  AND THE NEXT day WE THAT WERE OF PAUL’S COMPANY DEPARTED, AND CAME INTO CAESAREA: AND WE ENTERED INTO THE HOUSE OF PHILIP THE EVANGELIST, WHICH WAS one OF THE SEVEN; AND ABODE WITH HIM.”